Stop being so polite: It is OK to disagree

Are we too polite? As a community we are all too prone to setting our own opinions and ideas aside for the sake of coddling the feelings of our colleagues and friends, especially in a southern, Christian university. We have too much politeness going on in our university and that is not a good thing, because too much of anything is undoubtedly bad.

Many of us may not have been so polite coming into JBU’s community, but with time, we have taken on that type of character, of being too polite. This varies of course, but we can all agree that we have taken on some amount or form of being too polite.

Take, for example, politics. Politics is one of the touchier topics that we tend not to address often. We are afraid, worried that if we show a hint of disagreement with the ideas of our peers, that they might go off to their other, more like-minded colleagues and express their disapproval of our disagreement.

You might think that you have never done this, but you probably have at least once. Not only does this action negatively affect the individual, but it also negatively affects the general populous. We all say that it is good to have diversity, but we rarely allow for diverse opinions and ideas to take root, let alone be expressed, because people are worried and even afraid of what might be said of them and their ideas.

Perhaps we, as a community, are not too polite, or perhaps that is not the appropriate word for this situation. Regardless, we are simply being narrow minded, because we are not okay with ideas that differ from our own. I think it is definitely hard to accept ideas that differ from our own, but we should do things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” as John F. Kennedy said.

Politics is not the only arena in which disagreements tend to flourish. We also see this in religion, in science, in social issues, in big issues, in small issues, and issues beyond. How sad it is to have a campus full of potential and yet we have it bottled up. Perhaps our community is not too polite, perhaps it just worried, timid of differing ideas.

As Christians, as scholars, we must pursue “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Philippians 4:8). Because this is what God calls us to do, that is the only reason you need.

All of this can only be done if we are more than polite. We have to do more than nod our heads or hum. We have to open our hearts and minds and seek what is truly true for our own sake and for the glory of God.

Aguilar is a junior majoring in political science. He can be reached at AguilarAM@jbu.edu.